|I flew from Galapagos to Guayaguil which is in the south-west of the country. There are four distinct regions in Ecuador, the Andes, the Orient (Amazon rainforest), the coastal region and the Galapagos Islands. Guayaguil was in the lowlands. It is the largest city and was a noisy and dirty. The only decent area seemed to be the waterfront area, Malecon, which was lovely. It was redeveloped in 2000 and had cafes, monuments, fountains, gardens and was all very clean and neat. At the north end of that was Santa Ana which was an area of brightly painted houses on a hill with 444 steps up to a lighthouse and viewpoint. I went up there and had a traditional lunch.
I then took a 6 hour bus to Cuenca. The bus station was a zoo. I managed to find the right bus and boarded. I was the only tourist! The journey was very scenic as it went through the Andes and a national park. Loads of people boarded the bus to sell corns snacks, fruit, water, alsorts of bits and pieces. It showed how hard people have to work to make a meagre income. A couple of guys boarded with granite slabs and power tools which they flung in the overhead storage. I had visions of them falling on someone's head. I was a bit concerned that my luggage might go missing from the storage area (I had heard of couple of instances), but I was OK.
Cuenca was charming and relaxed. It is an historic town (a UNESCO world heritage site) and comprises lots of narrow, cobbled streets and churches. It was clean and neat with some nice shops and cafes. I went to a place were the made panama hats. It was fascinating to see how they make them by hand. (Panama hats are made in Ecuador, but were first exported to workers on the Panama canal). I also visited the Banco Central museum which had art, Inca artefacts, and information on the culture and history of all areas.
I then returned to Quito for a couple of days prior to flying to Peru.